GUADALAJARA, Mexico – American citizens in Mexico’s state of Jalisco received a heightened security alert from the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara earlier this week, following Mexican military and police operations causing an unusual disruption of classes for hundreds of medical students here.
American students say that classes, let alone examinations, are rarely cancelled at the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara Medical School even during past shootings that occurred on or near the campus.
However early Friday, students awoke to emails sent by a class president.
"The exam is cancelled and will be scheduled for next week sometime," said Michelle Rose, Sixth Semester Class President of the International Student program, in an email sent to her classmates. "The reason for the cancellation was not provided."
The law enforcement operation cited in the consulate report occurred near the Providencia and Valle Real communities in Guadalajara.
"The Consulate recommends that all American citizens take precautions and be vigilant to news reports regarding events in the state of Jalisco until the situation returns to normal," said Madison Conoley, spokesman for the consulate.
Despite the warnings a university official denied that classes were cancelled.
"The operation did occur close to the school of medicine and I understand their fear but we didn't tell students to stay home today, said Vanessa Urzua, an admission counselor for the medical school.
Urzua said there have been ongoing skirmishes between the Sinaloa Cartel run by Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán and a relatively new group known as the New Generation of Jalisco.
U.S. medical students seemed unsure what to think of the situation. Many U.S. citizens attend medical school in Mexico because the programs are less competitive to get into than their U.S. counterparts and the cost is far less.
"All of us were told to stay home today," said one American student who declined to be identified. "Everyone I know who had a 7 a.m. class on Friday was sent home by their professor."
Eyewitnesses said military personnel could be seen on the main road in front of the medical school.
"We've never seen that before," said the student, who is among nearly 1,000 Americans at the school. "My friends called me and said they were cancelling the exams and classes because of the warning."
The student said she resides in an upscale neighborhood that has high ranking cartel members living nearby and has not been immune to witnessing and hearing the violence.
"Yeah, this disrupts going to medical school, the violence and an interruption like this makes it more stressful," said the student. "We have students trying to study to take their U.S. Boards now to practice in the U.S."
Urzua attempted to deflect the potential seriousness of the alert as another media overreaction.
"We recommend that students go out with friends and not alone," Urzua said. "If you let this type of thing affect you, you will have a problem."
Students at the medical school have yet to hear what Monday's schedule will bring.
"There are students who may show up to class Monday to take the exam and have a complete meltdown," said the international student.
The last alert issued by the consulate was Aug. 25, when blockades were set up around the city by one of the transnational criminal organizations.
Joseph J. Kolb is a regular contributor to Fox News Latino.